Thursday, December 25, 2008

Leading a Horse to Water

This Christmas Eve may mark a milestone in my evolution as a craft beer lover: the night I stopped bringing good beer to family gatherings.

When you attend the Great American Beer Festival, inevitably, one of the longest lines is at the booth for New Glarus Brewing Company of Wisconsin. Their fruit beers are especially sought after, because they are not sold outside their native state lines. Their Raspberry Tart and Wisconsin Belgian Red beers are raspberry and cherry pies in a bottle, essentially.
The Raspberry Tart is the more tangy of the two. While its tart and sweet fruit flavors smack your taste buds up front, the beer backbone provides a malty hint of the crust that surrounds the liquid pie. The Belgian Red is sweeter, with its cherry essence accentuated by notes of spice.
A good friend of ours and his wife had to travel to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, a few months ago. Nothing serious, thank goodness. When I heard they were going, I asked casually if they were passing through any part of Wisconsin on the way. Maybe they could drop by a liquor store and pick up a couple of things.
To make a long story short, my request resulted in my friend and his wife browsing liquor stores over the state line from the clinic while he dangled a tube from his nose. After finding four liquor stores and getting guidance from me on the cell phone, they purchased six packs of Fat Squirrel and Spotted Cow along with four each of the raspberry and cherry beers.
Needless to say, I was very happy and grateful.
Cut to the present time, when my friend is back from the clinic and healthy. Since they were so nice to go to the effort of bringing these wonderful beers, I thought it was only right that I share them at holiday time. In attendance at a Christmas Eve gathering at my friends' house were their family along with members of my wife's family, including my mother-in-law.
I explained the significance of these beers. I told of the long lines at the GABF, the beers' rarity, and the fact that craft beer lovers across the country and around the world would love to have the opportunity to share these beers. 
Maybe I laid it on a little too thick.
The reception to the beers was underwhelming. The Raspberry Tart was up first. My mother-in-law, who makes no bones about saying what she thinks, made a puckery face and scowled at me. I overheard my brother-in-law say that he had had that beer before, and "it wasn't any good."
Keep in mind, this was the same brother-in-law who frowned and asked after tasting a Dale's Pale Ale, "Ooh. What's that taste?"
I responded, "It's taste."
Back to the party. Most were polite and went back to the margarita punch after trying the beer. However, there were a couple of guests who made the good beer face and asked for more. Needless to say, they were first in line when the cherry beer was opened.
The good news is that I was left with most of the beer to enjoy myself. My wife loves both beers, but she's the smart one of the family and had the car keys in her pocket.
What's the lesson? From now on, I'm only going to share really good beers with those who approach me and express an interest - especially the rare beers. I know I have a responsibility to spread the word about good beers, but bad beer drinkers have to have an open mind to be eligible for conversion.
You can lead a bad beer drinker to good beer, but unless they ask for it, they're not going to get to drink.
Happy holidays.


Alpha King said...

My beloved Vicki loves the Belgium Red and the Raspberry Tart. We sneaked into Wisconsin during a visit to Chicago. Usually it is I who is filling up the shopping cart at a liquor store in non-Indiana area but this time it is was her. She loves her New Glarius and it makes her happy thus I am happy. Belgium Red is a "romance beer". The spotted cow and fat squirrel are underwelming in my view. I will have no problem talking Vicki into visiting New Glarus in the future.

sarinawilson23 said...
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GROUCHO said...

Ha Ha... I am with ya on this topic... I have tried to bring great beers to family gatherings... Only to see everyone drinking the Bud-Lite.

It kinda sucks... I want to be an advocate for great beer... But at the same time... I don't want to beat a dead horse to someone who doesn't care!

So, I give it one shot... If they are interested... Great... If not... Move along!

Mike said...

Reading this had me thinking back to the time I tried sharing good beer with the family. Just a horrible idea all around.

This year I ran out of good beer early and ended up buying more for a gas station - "I guess it's time to try Bud American Ale.."

I think most beer-dedicated folks were hoping the BAA might convert the masses. After drinking it I think I'd rather have a Bud Light.

Teecycle Tim said...

I recently realized the biggest difference between college parties and post-college parties is better beer. Clearly does not apply to family parties, however.

Dave said...

I am a Wisconsinite and I love almost all of New Glarus's brews. I especially love the Belgian Red and Spotted Cow. I can't believe your family and friends were not interested in the spotted cow. It is a great, mellow, wheat bear. You can't really go wrong. But lesson learned, share rare beer with those who will appreciate the beer.